About stevenmbeard

Musselburgh Camera Club 56

18 April 2019 (Club Photoshoot at Newhailles)

On Thursday, 18th April the annual club photoshoot took place at Newhailes House & Gardens, just to the west of Musselburgh. Fortunately, the Easter egg hunt scheduled to start on the Friday had not altered our plans and the estate was open as usual. The estate contains some woodland paths where there were glades full of bluebells, anemones and flowering garlic. Some of the flowers were protected behind a fence, but still accessible with a long lens. There were views of Newhailes House through the trees (left) and architectural focal points along the paths. Towards the end of the evening we photographed the setting sun reflected in one of the windows (right).

If anyone captured some good images on the estate, please email them to Newhailes@nts.org.uk. The National Trust are always interested in new and interesting images taken at their properties.

The next event due to take place at Newhailes is a 1745 Battle Reenactment on 25-26th May 2019. This could be another good photographic opportunity.

The next meeting at Fisherrow will be our club AGM at 19:30 on Thursday, 25th April 2019. There will be some unexpected surprises! Please come along, have a say in how your club is run and join in the fun. Refreshments will be served and trophies will be presented to the competition winners.

 

 

11 April 2019 (Best Print Of The Night)

This week was our last event at Fisherrow before the AGM on 25th April. It was an opportunity for members to bring in 1-3 prints each for an informal knock-out competition. It is an opportunity to bring along extra prints that were made earlier in the year but not used, or to try out some new images as prints. There were a wide variety of subjects: photographs of butterflies, flowers, landscapes, architecture, some beautiful portraits and some abstract images. Charlie Briggs raised a laugh with his image of a boy and a T-rex entitled, “We Should Have Bought Him A Dog”.

Prints were pitted against one-another in 3 knockout stages, in which the chairman (aided and abetted by Mike Clark) showed a remarkable inability to divide a number by 2! There was some resurrection rounds where the best images that had been eliminated could be restored and voted on again, and an image of Cove Harbour ended up ping-ponging between the two piles. At the end of the voting, members’ favourite images were as follows:

  • Equal 4th place
    • Glass winged butterfly (Robert Wilson)
    • Abstract (Kevin Johnson)
  • 3rd place
    • A misty sunrise landscape (Robert Wilson)
  • 2nd place
    • A group of harebells (Robert Wilson)
  • 1st place
    • An image of a farrier at work (Joe Fowler)

Well done to Robert Wilson for getting all three of his images into the top 5, and for securing 2nd and 3rd places! Also well done to Joe for winning the competition and taking home the box of chocolates.

Many more prints were submitted this evening than were brought to the Photo Advice Night earlier in the year, so I hope members also got some useful feedback and advice during the discussion over tea.

 

21 March 2019 (Set Subject Competition – Street Photography)

This week our 3-part set subject competition reached its climax with the final competition on the subject of street photography, judged by Stephen Williams, the winner of last year’s competition. Stephen began by describing his vision of what street photography means: a candid style of photography which documents human life in the street or elsewhere. He will be looking for photographs which show emotions, interactions and actions and which tell a story. The subject works equally well in colour or black and white. 18 members entered a total of 54 images. Most of the images showed people or street performers going about their business. Jim Tod’s image “Photobombed” raised a laugh, showing a lady taking a selfie with a pigeon sitting on her head! In most competitions the judge would recommend cropping out unwanted distractions but in this competition there were many images that were too tight in the frame and needed to show more of the scene to tell the story. Is this person really a hat seller if there are no hats in the picture? Who is the artist painting this picture? Where is the audience interacting with this performer? Some images with distracting colours would have worked better in black and white, although Steve Barber’s “London Transport” had been colour-popped to good effect. There were some beautiful portraits, creative abstract images and stark images of buildings, urban landscapes and street furniture which were good images but were lacking the story needed to make a good street image. The best images were the ones which captured a moment in someone’s life and made the viewer think. The top scoring images were:

  • Scrap Lady (George Todd) – 20 points
  • Edinburgh’s Finest (Mike Clark) – 20 points
  • Resting (Jennifer Davidson) – 19 points
  • London Transport (Steve Barber) – 19 points
  • Levitating Band (Steven Beard) – 18 points
  • Mobile Sweet Shop (George Todd) – 18 points
  • Pushy Lady (Mike Clark) – 18 points
  • Out shopping (Catriona McKay) – 18 points
  • View From Up Here (Gordon Davidson) – 18 points
  • Waiting (Steve Barber) – 18 points

There was a spread of high scoring images amongst all members, but it was those who were consistent who achieved the better overall score. The highest total scores were:

  • 5th place (47 points)
    • Lorraine Roberts
    • Jim Tod
    • Catriona McKay
  • 4th place (49 points)
    • Steven Beard
    • Gordon Davidson
  • 3rd place (51 points)
    • Mike Clark
  • 2nd place (52 points)
    • Jennifer Davidson
  • 1st place (53 points)
    • George Todd
    • Steve Barber

Congratulations to George Todd and Steve Barber for their joint win. In this situation the winner who did better in the other two competitions is the one who judges next year, which makes Steve Barber next year’s judge.

The final result of the 2018/19 set subject competition looks like this. The trophy is won by the member who (unless judging) has entered all 3 competitions and has the highest combined score in their two best competitions. The top overall scorers are:

  • 5th place (100 points)
    • Mike Clark
  • 4th place (101 points)
    • Jennifer Davidson
    • Gordon Davidson
  • 3rd place (102 points)
    • Steven Beard
  • 2nd place (103 points)
    • Steve Barber
  • 1st place (112 points)
    • Jim Tod

Nobody managed to get a high enough score to overturn Jim Tod’s lead from the first two competitions, so Jim wins the trophy. Also well done to Steve Barber, who moved up to take the silver medal. It is also good to see Sandra Crowhurst, Catriona McKay and Gordon Davidson submitting some really good images to this competition.

 

21 February 2019 (Human Portrait Print Competition)

Here, at last, are the results from the human portrait competition which took place on 21st February 2019. The competition was judged by Neil Spowart of North Berwick Photographic Society and the results read out on the night by Mike Clark. I missed the competition but I understand Mike put on a good show for those present.

35 images were entered by 12 members. The top scorers were (in reverse order):

  • 4th place (51 points)
    • Malcolm Roberts
  • 3rd place (52 points)
    • Jennifer Davidson
  • 2nd place (53 points)
    • Jim Tod
    • Steve Barber
  • 1st place (59 points)
    • George Todd

Well done to George for winning the competition with an almost perfect score! The top images were:

  • Yadana (George Todd) – 20 points
  • Baraha Temple Priest (George Todd) – 20 points
  • Blue Rinse (Malcolm Roberts) – 19 points
  • Marching To My Fate (Jim Tod) – 19 points
  • Distracted (George Todd) – 19 points
  • Balancing Act (Jennifer Davidson) – 18 points
  • Andy (Jim Tod) – 18 points
  • Arms (Kevin Johnson) – 18 points
  • Halloween (Steve Barber) – 18 points
  • Mysterious Lady (Steve Barber) – 18 points

 

07 March 2019 (Pecha Kucha Night)

This week we had our annual Pecha Kucha night, which gives as many members as possible the opportunity to give a short presentation and show 10 images on any subject of their choosing.

Before the evening began, we completed last week’s “abstract” set subject competition by showing 3 images from Kevin Johnson which had not been included. The result gave Kevin one of the top images (a spectacular image of bubbles called “Bubs”, which received 19 points). Kevin’s score of 49 points puts him in joint 4th place and gives him a place on the league table (click here for details).

9 members had brought collections of images, which was just enough to fill the evening with interesting presentations. Joe began by showing some of his travel images from the past and told us the story behind each one (including how he once lost the location of his hotel when staying in New York). I showed my first photography project with a digital camera, in which I borrowed the Bill The Pony cuddly toy from a, now defunct, Tolkien web site called “Imladris”, which featured photographs showing the pony enjoying a tour of the world. Gavin showed us photographs he took during a training exercise for the Scottish Marshalling rescue service, showing how the team need to cover for both the ambulance and fire service. Mike showed us some of the street photography images which he hadn’t submitted for the next set subject competition. Malcolm and Lorraine showed us some fabulous images from their recent holiday in New Zealand, and Jennifer showed us a selection of her wildlife images. Alan showed us some historical photographs from his veterinary career and a large print made with some poster making software. Catriona and Sandra showed images from photographers they admired and would like to emulate. Finally, Liz had brought along a collection of hundred year-old postcards for members to look at while having tea. Overall it was an entertaining and enjoyable evening with a good mix of subjects.

For those of you who saw the pinhole lens I was showing during the tea break, you might find one in the UK by inserting the words “pinhole lens for Nikon” or “pinhole lens for Canon” into a search engine. My own lens is made by Skink Pinhole Pancake in Germany, who are (unfortunately) no longer selling them via Amazon.

Next week we have a members evening. Simon Wilkinson, Ken Sharp and Mike Clark have offered to show us some of their work.

Please don’t forget to sign the tea list. We wouldn’t have had any tea this evening if it wasn’t for Jennifer kindly rushing off at the beginning of the evening to buy us some milk.

 

28 February 2019 (Set Subject Competition – Abstract)

This week we had the second of our 3 set subject competitions, following on from the “Seascapes” competition, which took place in October 2018. The competition was judged by Mike Clark, who won the “Movement” competition last year. Mike began the evening by showing us the definition of abstract photography, which he would be using to judge the images. He also showed us a collection of his own abstract images, which would also have been strong contenders in this competition.

Members submitted a total of 39 images. The “abstract” subject gives members a chance to be creative in their work, and Mike said he had been inspired to try some of the ideas. Images included a spectacular arrangement of oil drops on water, streaks of light, creative collections of everyday objects viewed from unusual angles, reflections, bubbles, striking rock formations, unusual landscapes, lighting displays, strange portraits taken through glass or cloth and a glowing neon tiger. One images which stood out from the rest was a spectacular macro image of water droplets covering the centre of a flower, by relative newcomer Sandra Crowhurst. Well done Sandra, you nailed it with that image! Mike was baffled how some authors achieved their effects, and there was a lot of discussion during the tea break.

The top scoring images were:

  • Water Droplets (Sandra Crowhurst) – 20 points
  • Glacier Nebula (Jim Tod) – 19 points
  • Bubs (Kevin Johnston) – 19 points
  • Emergence (Jim Tod) – 18 points
  • Winter Gloaming at Luskentyre (Jim Tod) – 18 points
  • Riveting (Gordon Davidson) – 18 points
  • Pine Cone (Sean Conner) – 18 points
  • Resting Place (Steve Barber) – 18 points

Jim Tod stole the show with a great set of 3 images, but it was the 17-point images which made a difference to the rest of the placings when the scores were added up. Steven Beard achieved 3 x 17, Jennifer Davidson achieved 2 x 17, and Lorraine and Malcolm Roberts each had one 17 point image. The highest total scores were:

The highest scorers were:

  • 5th place (48 points)
    • Malcolm Roberts
  • 4th place (49 points)
    • Jennifer Davidson
    • Sean Conner
    • Sandra Crowhurst
    • Kevin Johnston
  • 3rd place (50 points)
    • Gordon Davidson
    • Steve Barber
  • 2nd place (51 points)
    • Steven Beard
  • 1st place (55 points)
    • Jim Tod

The winner normally wins the privilege of judging next year’s competition, but as Jim Tod also won the “Seascapes” competition and is already judging next year, the task falls to me in second place.

The set subject trophy will be won be the member who has the best combined score from their best two competitions. The league table after two competitions looks like this:

  • Jim Tod (57 + 55 = 112)
  • Steven Beard (51 + 51= 102)
  • Gordon Davidson (51 + 50 = 101)
  • Steve Barber (50 + 50 =100)
  • Joe Fowler (54 + 44 = 98)
  • Mike Clark (49 + judging)
  • Jennifer Davidson (47 + 49 = 96)
  • Malcolm Roberts (47 + 48 = 95)
  • Kevin Johnston (43 + 49 = 92)
  • Sandra Crowhurst (42 + 49 = 91)
  • George Todd (45 + 46 = 91)

Jim Tod is way ahead, but only a few points separate the rest. Entries for the 3rd competition “street photography” are open now. George has extended the entry deadline by a few more days, so if you would like to enter please send 3 JPEG copies (scaled to 1600 pixels on the largest side) to George (georgetodd1957@me.com) this weekend. The deciding competition takes place on 21st March 2019.

 

SPF Print Championship 2019

For those interested, the Scottish Photographic Federation Print Championship takes place tomorrow (17th February 2019) at the Stirling Court Hotel, Stirling University, Stirling FK9 4LA. The ticket desk opens at 9:30am and the competition finishes at 4:30pm. If you haven’t already found the information, here is a link to the details on the SPF web site:

https://www.scottish-photographic-federation.org/spf-print-championship

A timetable of the event is available at the following link:

https://www.scottish-photographic-federation.org/sites/default/files/downloads/print_championship_timetable_for_the_day_2019.pdf

14 February 2019 (Match That Image)

On 14th February 2019 we hosted North Berwick Photographic Society for a “Match-an-Image” evening. This is a competition format we have not tried before, and it turned out to be great fun. Each team brings along a bank of 40 images. Teams in turn display one image, and the other team tries to match it with a similar image. Points are scored when the other team can’t find a match, or when the judge declares that your team have the best matching image.

The competition was judged by Joe Fowler, who tried hard to be unbiased even though he came from Musselburgh and had to judge several of his own images! This was an informal competition where banter and comments are encouraged. At one point the audience were astonished that an image of a herd of elephants was judged to be a match to juggling man dressed as a monkey! Well, they both have an animal theme.

North Berwick are masters at this competition, and matching their images turned out to be a lot harder than anticipated. Musselburgh had a few lucky breaks, but North Berwick had a really devious collection of opening images, and in the end North Berwick won by 33 points to 24. We learned a lot about the competition tactics by watching North Berwick, and we should be able to give them a closer competition next year. Some obvious changes we need to make next year are:

  • Make sure our team sits in a place where they can actually see the screen.
  • Print out some thumbnails of your images so you can actually see them.

It’s little things like this that make all the difference.

7 February 2019 (Audio Visual Evening)

On 7th February 2019 we had our annual audio visual evening with Beeslack Penicuik Camera Club. The evening began once the elephant dancing class in the upstairs room had finished and our projector had stopped shaking. Musselburgh Camera Club kicked off with a presentation on the history of flight, leading to the Apollo moon landings in 1969 (with 2019 being the 50th Anniversary). Beeslack showed a presentation on the history of Glencourse Barracks (which will sadly be closing in in a few years) and a presentation on the history of the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune, which nicely contrasted with Musselburgh’s earlier presentation. Musselburgh then showed a presentation on how to make a presentation, which described the whisky-making process at the Highland Park distillery in Orkney. The evening finished with a moving tribute to John McCrae and an atmospheric abstract presentation mixing images of trees in the Scottish landscape with calming music. Once again, it was a pleasure to host Beeslack and share our audio visual projects.

31 January 2019 (How Did You Do That)

This week members shared their image processing hints and tips, revealed how to make some special effects or brought in questions to be answered. Here are some highlights from the discussion.

Removing unwanted objects.

Quiet often an image will lose marks because of a distraction in the background or a bright spot near the edge. The easiest way to remove the distractions is to crop the image, but what if you can’t? If cropping the image would remove something important, the other way to remove distractions is to used the “patch”, “clone stamp” and “healing brush” tools in Photoshop. The patch tool is great for removing distracting objects against a plain background (such as sky, grass or water). Look for the tool that looks like a sewn patch as shown here.

Make a selection around the object you want to remove, click in the middle and drag the patch somewhere else in the plain background. When you release the mouse the object will be removed. If your background has a pattern, such as waves or stripes, line up the pattern as best you can before releasing the mouse. Hint: You can remove a large or oddly-shaped area by patching it a bit at a time.

The clone stamp tool can be used for trickier patching jobs, like the image below. Select the tool looking like an ink stamp. Move the tool to an area you would like to copy and click while pressing the ALT key. Then move the tool to the place you would like to erase, line up the edges and start painting.

The “clone source” window (above) can help you to match the edges. If you are copying the top of the mountain but it is at the wrong angle, try changing the rotation. If you are cloning a background with a gradient, use the “Mirror horizontal” button to flip the gradient so your painted strokes don’t leave a sharp edge. Here are some more cloning hints:

  • After cloning, go over the same area with the healing brush to smooth over the edges and remove artefacts. Look for discontinuities and unnatural straight edges.
  • Try to clone from many different sources to avoid creating repeating patterns. When you have finished, look for duplicated objects and similar patterns and change the duplicates by passing the healing brush over them.

Local Tone Corrections

We have all been told to use the “brightness”, “levels” or “curves” tools in Photoshop to adjust the brightness and contrast, but what if your image only needs a partial correction? “camera raw” comes with a selection of very useful adjustment tools. The first is the “gradient tool”, shown below. First select the adjustment you would like to make (in this case a reduction in exposure and darkening the highlights) and then sweep with the mouse away from the part you would like adjusted (in this image from bottom to top). The adjustment darkens the foreground highlights.

The second is the “adjustment brush” shown below. This tool uses exactly the same sliders as the gradient tool, only this time you can paint the adjustment anywhere on the image. Ticking the “auto mask” box prevents the adjustment accidentally leaking across a sharp edge. Hovering the mouse over the point reveals which parts of the image have been painted over (as shown below in red).

This adjustment is particularly useful for brightening the faces in a portrait or for darkening bright distractions near the edge of an image. The secret is to make only small adjustments so your image still looks natural. You can change the adjustment at any time.

Content Aware Scale

The content aware scale is a little used Photoshop utility (which has been available since CS4)  but its results can be absolutely magic. It is ideal for compositions with several subjects spaced out against a plain background. If you would like to bring the subjects closer together, or to change the aspect ratio of the image without cropping it, a content aware scale may work for you. First select the part of the image you would like to scale with a rectangular box (or use “select all”). Then select “Edit/Content Aware Scale” as shown below.

Now move the edges of your image inwards and watch the magic happen. Look carefully and make sure non of the main subjects are compressed by the effect. The vacated parts will be filled with background colour, but you can remove them with a crop.

Correcting Horizontals and Verticals

One member asked how to correct an image where the main subject is tilted at a strange angle. There are alternative two ways of doing this. The first and simplest method is to rotate the image and crop it. This method is best used for an image, such as a seascape, where the horizon is tilted or an image, like the one below, where an object which should be vertical (the church tower) is leaning to one side.

The example shows the crop tool in “camera raw”. Right-click on the image and ensure that “Show overlay” is ticked. Move the mouse outside the crop area and drag the edges to rotate the crop until the overlaid lines match up with the horizontals and verticals in the image.

If your image is more complicated, such as an architectural shot, the second method is to use the lens correction filter, as shown below. The “camera raw” lens correction filter is easier to use. Click on the tool which looks like a lens schematic “()()”. The “rotate” slider rotates the image, just as before. Use this slider to line up the horizontals and verticals in the centre of the image. The “vertical” and “horizontal” sliders can be used to correct the horizontals and verticals at the edge of your image. (The “distortion” slider can be used to straighten lines if your shot is taken with a wide angle lens.)

The lens correction filter in Photoshop itself has the same controls, but the “rotate” control is very fiddly to use.

After using the lens correction filter you will need to crop the image. If the sloping edges mean you lose something important outside the crop, it is possible to crop slightly outside the boundary and use a “Content Aware Fill” (available from CS6 onwards) to fill the missing parts. You should treat this fill like a clone and repair any odd-looking artefacts with the healing brush.

Don’t Make The Mistake I Made

Here is an image showing a mistake I made when creating a black and white image. The black and white conversion tool in Photoshop can be used to convert a colour image to black and white. The tool lets you adjust the colour sliders, or apply one of a number of presets, until you get the effect you want. Sometimes you will find different conversions work better in different parts of the scene. In the image below I applied two different black and white conversions to the bottom and the top of the image.

The mistake I made? The opacities of the two conversion layers don’t add up to 100%! Right in the middle there is a patch which looks black and white but actually has a tiny hint of colour. The mistake is revealed by boosting the saturation. To ensure you never make this mistake, always add a black and white conversion or desaturation layer which acts on the whole image.

Solarization Effect

Finally, here is a special effect you can try on an image with boring highlights, such as a blank and uninteresting sky. Applying a curves adjustment in the shape of an upside down “U” will create a solarization effect in which the dark parts of the image are shown in positive and the lighter parts are shown in negative.

You can vary the effect by dragging the top of the curve left or right, and you can use a layer mask to confine the effect to just part of your image. For example, the mask in the above image prevents the effect changing the white parts of the stones.

I hope these hints and tips will help members to adjust their images or have some fun with the special effects.